Asheville building moratorium: City attorney reports, Alliance supports ***UPDATED WITH VIDEO***

After emerging as a City Council campaign item and arising during a February retreat, discussion of a development moratorium is back at tonight’s Asheville City Council meeting.

City Attorney Bob Oast will give a presentation on the city’s options regarding a moratorium, which has been called for by activists including the group Mountain Voices Alliance, until the city can develop a downtown master plan.

Oast’s presentation is for informational purposes, unless Council instructs staff to work out a more specific plan.

Under a North Carolina statute cited in the report, the city must identify the reason and end date for a moratorium, as well as list the specific corrective actions it plans to take while the moratorium is under way. There would, the report continues, also have to be a public hearing before a final vote. Oast also notes that previous moratoia in North Carolina have resulted in litigation.

Meanwhile, the MVA continues to argue in favor of a moratorium, and on Monday released a statement via e-mail that reads, in part:

“Considering the proposed Master Plan process will take at least eight to twelve months to complete, how can we continue approving large-scale projects?  What’s the purpose of spending money on this comprehensive plan if the available space is being consumed by development beforehand?  What will be left to plan for?”

To see Oast’s entire staff report, go here.

The e-mail from Mountain Voices Alliance is below, as is a video from Council’s meeting.

Brian Postelle, staff writer

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                      FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
March 24, 2008                                       Elaine Lite – 273-1781

Mountain Voices Alliance presses for downtown moratorium

Asheville, NC – Mountain Voices Alliance will call upon City Council to consider passing a resolution or hold a public hearing for a building moratorium in downtown Asheville until a Master Plan can be completed.
                               
Councilwoman Robin Cape recently brought up the issue during a Council work session.  A discussion regarding a moratorium will be on the agenda for Tuesday, March 25.

“We feel this dialogue is long overdue,” said former City Council candidate and Mountain Voices Chair, Elaine Lite. “Our organization, along with People Advocating Real Conservancy (PARC), has been advocating for a temporary moratorium for over a year to no avail.” One of the primary issues of Lite’s campaign was to control growth and stop overdevelopment. “Considering the proposed Master Plan process will take at least eight to twelve months to complete, how can we continue approving large-scale projects?  What’s the purpose of spending money on this comprehensive plan if the available space is being consumed by development beforehand?  What will be left to plan for?”

Over the past 18 months, PARC and MVA have collected approximately 5000 signatures of citizens who are in favor of a moratorium on large-scale developments, (both county and city-wide) until a comprehensive land use plan is completed. Opponents continue to repeat the myth that building densely in the city will prevent sprawl. Sadly, without a plan in both the city and the county, we run the risk of ending up with excessive density, monumental high-rises and crippling traffic jams downtown, in addition to sprawl across our mountains.

“In effect,” Lite continued, “Continuing to approve projects that will impact the future of downtown for decades to come prior to the Master Plan is like building a house without a blueprint.”

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6 thoughts on “Asheville building moratorium: City attorney reports, Alliance supports ***UPDATED WITH VIDEO***

  1. Cities should grow as they need to. This so called “master plan” will not lead to the future utopia some evidently believe it will. It will be conceived by men and women with little civic engineering experience, with compromises that blunt the effectiveness of any one vision, and will be completely inadequate for the needs of five to ten years from now.
    What we need is not a temporary moratorium on building. What we need is a permanent moratorium on City Council interfering with the construction of this city. And that includes selling land they’re not supposed to sell at suspiciously low prices in shady back-room deals.

  2. lokel

    As long as it takes this Council to do anything exactly when will this master plan be realized and implemented in 30 years?

    I think it is a bit late to be discussing master plan plans… Asheville wasn’t set up as a “master planned” city to start with so to try and put the round peg that is Asheville into the square hole of a master plan is ludicrous.

    Yes, plan for where new development should be focused in the downtown area … like with the Lexington Station development, or the Zona lofts and the proposed Ravenscroft developments. The areas where these developments are to be built are basically run down warehouses and empty lots.

    Asheville missed the development boom in the 80’s and even before that while attempting, and succeeding in, paying off debt from the great depression that left much of the city empty and intact from that time.

  3. Jimbo

    On a related matter, when is the media, local government and the community going to either properly recognize or utterly dismiss some of these johnny come lately community action groups? I don’t know of this one so I won’t speak to it, but it does seem every two people with their nose bent outta shape forms their own group anymore. How do any of them have a legitimate claim to represent anyone if they are not founded on genuine communitywide representation? They should all be required to provide a list of their entire membership and some paperwork demonstrating their status as a non-profit or a political action goup or something.

    How is the city or the community supposed to take any of these groups seriously when one can sprout up overnight at the notion of one or two people who give themselves a clever acronym and then present their “group” as representing a wide demographic of people all over Asheville? All this while groups with a long history, sanctions by local government or other legitimate community organizations and some actual process of elections or appointments have to endure their recommendations or hard work being evenly stacked against ill conceived criticism or paranoid speculation from people misrepresenting themselves, their background or who they speak for just to advocate a personal view.

    I’m not attacking any particular group at this point. It just seems this community cannot have any meaningful discussion about anything or complete any community initiatives as long as this kind of faux action group mentality is encouraged and allowed to continue. There are several of these going on now and they’re a disservice to any argument they make and the community as a whole.

    Anyone who thinks there are not rampant embellishments by many of these so-called action groups, coalitions, alliances etc. is either part of the fraud or is kidding themselves. A little balance to the discussion is all that’s required. It’s not fair or helpful to constantly have groups at the table whose resume, qualifications, or constituancy are a complete works of fiction.

  4. Johnny Lemuria said: “…What we need is a permanent moratorium on City Council interfering with the construction of this city…”

    Exactly, Johnny, and this is just plain old common sense. Cities grow, trying to stop or impede that natural growth causes all sorts of problems resulting in degrading the city’s economy, violating property and other individual rights, and more. In short, it’s a really dumb and, worse, ineffective idea.

  5. Half the world wants to live in Asheville, so Asheville needs to plan for 3 billion housing units. If they do not then rents will go sky high, many will become homeless and jobless, and gentrification will be inevitable. Plus the displaced people will see a huge reduction in their QUALITY OF LIFE!!! As will those who can never afford to arrive. Nothing new is affordable. To become affordable, condos need to deteriorate for a few years like the Windsor. But nothing can become affordable if nothing gets built.

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